Category Archives: General Information

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The Threat Of Not Being The Number 1 Goalkeeper

The Goalkeeper HQ community is proving it’s worth with the website and social media platforms acting as a great resource. We recently got a great question which I wanted to share with everyone.

“What do you do when your child has been a keeper since they were 9 years old and you get a new coach for high school who is splitting the keeper position but wants your child to play the field the other half. And during practice and scrimmages puts your child on the field to practice rather than in the other goal. Daughter is a junior and has every intention of playing college. Thoughts?”

I see there being two parts to this question.

  1. Dealing with the threat of not being the #1 Goalkeeper
  2. The benefits of playing out on field

Dealing with the threat of not being the #1 Goalkeeper

There are pros and cons to having to deal with two goalkeepers on a team. In the article – “Best of friends, keenest of rivals – Dealing with being one of two goalkeepers” I list the benefits, which are;

  • Create healthy competition
  • For the goalkeepers to warm themselves up together
  • Takes the pressure off of the goalkeeper if they have to miss a game
  • It allows for recovery of injuries
  • Two goalkeepers allow for an inter-team scrimmage. 

With this being said, there is a psychological barrier to deal with when you feel you are losing your place as the starting goalkeeper. Confidence issues come to play and a feeling of rejection can arise.

As in another article that addresses “Dealing with getting dropped from the team” here are some reasons why you may be falling out of favor?

Some reasons why a coach may drop you. 
  1. Performance. You are making too many mistakes and you do not instill confidence in the team
  2. You have done something very wrong that breaks the club’s code of conduct. The coach needs to stamp authority on the team and prove that it is not ok to behave in that way
  3. Your head is not right! – You are distracted and focus is not as it should be. This often leads to distracting others in training and during games or not being responsive.
  4. Your strengths do not match the opposition or the way that coach wants you to play
  5. Persistent small infringements that undermine the coach. Turning up late, wearing the wrong uniform, talking when the coach is etc.
  6. Playing time needs to be given to another player in order to keep up the strength of the squad.

The same article also provides advice on dealing with some of the emotions if you do get dropped, but the original question does not imply that this has happened so here is advice for a healthy and competitive relationship with any goalkeepers looking to take your spot.

Here is some advice for goalkeepers who are competing for the number one spot.

1 – Do not make enemies with the other goalkeeper. Although they are competing with you for your place, you need them to push you harder, provide quality service, warm you up, provide you with rest during practice drills. A visual resentment towards the other goalkeeper will not go down well with the coach.

2 – Be coachable. The ability to take criticism without looking for an alibi. Not being a “Know it all”, and always looking to improve.

3 – Show that you love the game and the position. Is there a passion in the way that you train? Give 100% every time.

4 – Provide evidence of being mentally tough. Ensure that one mistake does not lead to a mental breakdown causing many more mistakes.

5 – Treat practice like you would a game. Demand great technique from yourself. Communicate with players like you would in a game.

6 – Practice at home. Even if it is small things like strength or speed training. Little improvements add up over time.

7 – Show that you are willing to make sacrifices. Are you available for selection during a friends birthday party – even if you don’t get to play?

8 – Look the part. Correct uniform, shoes tied up, shirt tucked in, socks pulled up – ball pumped up

9 – Befriend the influential players on the team. These are normally the loudest players or the captains. Other influential players are the defenders that play in front of you.

10 – Similar to #9, is the communication you give your defenders. If you just bellow out instructions or commands without any praise, the defenders will get sick of you. Boost their ego. Make them feel good with a “well done” – Defenders will like playing in front of goalkeepers that make them feel good. Coaches will pick up on that chemistry and elect to play you.

11 – Be ready to perform when called upon due to injury. See my post “Waiting in the wings

For the second part of the question please see the article [ THE BENEFITS OF OUTFIELD TRAINING FOR GOALKEEPERS ]

 


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Following a college GK coach on a recruiting trip

In this video, originally used for our Mentor program, we follow Yale women’s goalkeeper coach, Marty Walker as he recruits players from Surf Cup in San Diego.

 

Takeaways from the video include:

  • Marty looks at Goalkeepers two years ahead of the recruitment year
  • Coaches have many players and games to watch – They are unlikely to stay for the whole game.
  • Players playing for MLS teams get the attention of the coach
  • The perception of the goalkeeper in warm-up is important to encourage coaches to stay and watch games
  • Coaches viewing schedule is based on communication from prospective recruits prior to the tournament
  • Although coaches dont just wonder the field in the hope to find someone, they may be at a game looking at someone else ( an outfield player perhaps ) and if you impress, they may inquire about you.
  • The game may not allow you to shine. If you look good when not busy, the coach will make a point of seeing you in a different game.
  • Marty was looking at the goalkeeper’s ability to communicate with defenders as well as show good technique, even with the easy saves.
  • Distribution and starting positions are other areas in which coaches can judge your ability without even making a save.
  • The Surf Cup is ideal for recruiting as it has many fields in the same area – Allowing goalkeepers to catch the eye of recruits not necessarily there to see you.
  • Grades need to be as good as possible as certain grades are needed to get into schools

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The three things college coaches are looking for from prospective new goalkeepers

Throughout the last few months, I have been looking through a number of goalkeeping recruitment videos in the hope to find a goalkeeper for the Division 1 college I am currently working for. I have in earlier posts, talked about what makes a good goalkeeper recruitment video, but what is it that a goalkeeper coach, assistant coach and head coach are all looking for from prospective new goalkeepers?

A physical ability to keep the ball out of the net

If you are going to be on the squad of a college level team, you have to be good enough to do the job of your position. For Goalkeepers, the most obvious job is to keep the ball out of the back of the net. The goalkeeper should show evidence of the ability to keep the ball out of the net from a variety of scenarios. Shot stopping has a number of sub-topics which need to be shown. Low shots, high shots, point blank saves, angled shots, shots to the left and shots to the right are examples. A proof also that the goalkeeper can be brave by diving at feet and calculated by collecting a variety of different crosses. If a goalkeeper can make these saves, you will gain attention.

Show areas that you can still improve. That you have not reached your ceiling.

College coaches are not expecting goalkeepers to be the finished article. You will hopefully have four years to improve. What is the difference between showing you have not yet reached a ceiling and actually being poor? The key is in the consistency. If the goalkeeper has proved that they can keep the ball out of the net as mentioned above, the coaches will ask for full game footage. In this game footage, coaches will be looking to see if there are any common trends that may raise a red flag. Here are some examples:

  • Inability to dive to one side.
  • Poor goal kicks, distance wise.
  • If any height concerns affect collection of crosses or ability to command the box.
  • Lack of bravery in traffic
  • Goalkeeper not coming off line

Things that can be helped improve.

  • Accuracy of kicking
  • Turning tips around posts into catches
  • Turning punches from crosses into catches
  • Tempo of the game
  • Improved starting position

It is also important for any potential goalkeeper to know that they are not the finished article and are willing to take on board information from any / all of the coaches

Provide evidence of quality distribution.

This is the one thing that players / parents leave out of recruitment videos, but is one of the most important for coaches looking at potential goalkeepers. The goalkeepers will be working in a group of 3 or 4 throughout the year. More often than not there will be scenarios in practice where quality service is required. Whether you work in pairs or as a group including the goalkeeper coach, all goalkeepers need to be consistent with quality service. 

Here are some examples:

  • Volleys / half volleys to partner
  • Shots on target from angled positions
  • To provide different speeds on shots in order to work, yet not kill the goalkeeper.
  • Ability to cross a ball consistently
  • Quick footwork for rondo or small sided games with outfield players.
  • Ability to hit a target area for a restart in a phase of play

If a prospective goalkeeper can not achieve the required service on a consistent basis for scenarios mentioned above, the other goalkeepers, the goalkeeping coach and the head coach will get frustrated. It is one thing if you, as a goalkeeper is not the best, but you soon fall out of favor if you are stopping others from becoming the best they can be due to your lack of quality service.

Here are some action points:

  1. Ensure you are starting a library of different saves for highlights
  2. Have a number of full games ready to show if needed
  3. Keep working on distribution and ability to serve

The Goalkeeper HQ membership has it’s own course on “The road to college”

You can sign up for the course here

or 

Sign up for the membership, get all the courses, and get a free pair of Breka Midnight L1 Goalkeeper Gloves.

 


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The perfect training area – In your back yard!

I was recently asked for advice on what should go in a goalkeeping area that was being made…. in someone’s back yard.

“Wow” – I said. I immediately went into shopping list mode! The area is as big as a penalty box and this is what I came up with. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any advice.

  1. A goal. The same size as what you play in
  2. A lined penalty area for realism and to get visual clues when training
  3. Balls. Lots of them for lots of repetitions
  4. Rebound wall to practice both kicking and control – The modern day goalkeeper needs to be great with their feet. Control and accuracy of kick are vital.
  5. Ladder and cones – Again, goalkeepers need to have quick foot movements. There are so many ladder routines, one will never get bored. Read the article regarding footwork here
  6. A balance ball. A goalkeeper’s core strength and balance is essential. This is great for pre activation warm up which gets the smaller muscles firing before working the big ones which leads to less imbalances.
  7. Storage shed or box. (not shown) To keep everything tidy and to save equipment from the elements
  8. Bands. To improve leg strength
  9. Video camera & tripod – To film those practices and learn from mistakes
  10. Pinnies / Bibs for when your friends want to come and play for a 3 v 3 plus goalkeeper session

There is certainly no excuses for this young goalkeeper to be the very best they can.

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Importance of rest title

The importance of rest during downtime in soccer

Albeit at different times of the year, every goalkeeper will face a period of downtime. These typically are at the end of June and to a lesser extent during a winter break, whenever that may be.
 
Here are six advantages of rest taken from the fitbit blog site;

1. REST PREVENTS INJURY

It’s common sense that resting is beneficial for injury reduction, but why? Well for starters, rest days prevent overuse. That extends from running to lifting and even walking. If you’re a regular runner, you know how much your legs and feet can take until you just need a day off. If you push it too hard without a break, your muscles and joints suffer from overuse and that’s where injuries can happen.

2. YOUR MUSCLES NEED REST

This is likely the first thing you learned about strength training. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibers. But without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of your training. That’s why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

3. YOUR PERFORMANCE WON’T DIP

In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in.

4. OVER-TRAINING AFFECTS SLEEP

Is your sleep data all over the place? Over-training could be the culprit. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. A telltale sign is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking those rest day can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep.

5. YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM CAN OVERHEAT

During periods of heavy activity, our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs. And then? You guessed it: injuries.

6. MENTAL EDGE

From a psychological standpoint, taking a rest period can rekindle your hunger for exercise and help prevent burnout. Mental fatigue can be every bit as detrimental as physical fatigue and taking a rest day helps to recharge the psyche.

So what can you do to get your mind set on rest? For starters, you’re going to have to make the mental adjustment to understanding and believing that you can take days off. It’s good for you, for all the reasons listed above.

Just like setting your daily steps goals, set your rest goals. Plot out a schedule and pick your weekly rest days; one or two days where you limit your activity to allow your body/muscles to recover. Use your tracker to limit your active minutes. If you’re a huge step-count achiever, give yourself a day where you limit even your walking to a weekly minimum. And don’t forget that active recovery is also hugely beneficial, and a standard routine of stretching or light yoga to improve flexibility and circulation can be especially valuable.

 

All the above provide benefits of physical rest. This does not mean that you have to stop all development in your goalkeeping. Here is a list of things you can be doing to aid your performance without exerting yourself physically.

  • Watch games on TV to pick up trends on what professionals are doing
  • Embark on a good stretching routine
  • Plan your pre-season
  • Read a goalkeeping book such as a biography
  • Take a GKHQ Online course to brush up on your goalkeeping knowledge
  • Check your equipment and review what is needed before the start of the next season
  • Embark on some self-evaluation, by reviewing your match analysis or by using the GKHQ Video analysis service.
  • Join the GKHQ membership group to get all the latest videos & education in 12+ different themes, from Technical education to Parent “How To” guides.
  • Check off and revise your short term and long term goals
  • Research and apply for appropriate camps that will help you achieve your goals.

 


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Goalkeeping coaching philosophy for the season.

Originally posted August 2016

With the recent adventure of joining Quinnipiac University’s Men’s Soccer program I have reviewed my coaching philosophy for the year.

With my coaching of youth teams, high school & college there will obviously be some differences in expectations but here are the things I expect from all the goalkeepers I am coaching this season.

From myself the coach:

  • All my sessions are planned in advance with space for reactive sessions if needed.
  • Make use of a variety of GK equipment
  • Sessions intense for 30 – 50 minutes with little down time between exercises
  • More focus on distribution
  • Allow GK’s to finish on success – additional serves are played until goalkeeper ends with a save.
  • To incorporate a cool down to each session

Expectation from players:

  • Professionalism – arriving on time with correct equipment
  • Own preparation prior to training
  • Train as if you are playing. (Go for everything & complete the save if ball is loose.)
  • To provide quality service to others
  • Ask questions if not sure what is expected
  • A winning / competitive mentality
  • Encourage others with positive feedback after good saves

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Congratulations Cam!!

Congratulations to one of our students, Cameron who recently got invited to the U.S. Youth National Team Futures Camp in Florida. Cam was one of three goalkeepers and only thirty players selected to attend, having impressed at a regional US National ID clinic.

Cam, who is one of our GKHQ Mentor Program members, joined players from Colorado, California, Virgina, New York, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts & Ohio.

It certainly has been a whirlwind couple of years for this talented young man. Cam was playing on the Everton America “B” team as a part time GK. It was there that Cam, much like Tim Howard, who also played out on field until 13, put in the hours with his foot skills and distribution.

The quality in Cam’s distribution helped him establish himself as #1 GK on Everton America’s Regional NPL team.

As part of the “Player Pathway” at Everton, Cam was introduced to the Academy system with training sessions at sister club Everton FC Westchester who has Academy status. During that same U13 season, Cam also went to the NYCSL PDP trials and also joined Next Gen’s select team to play in Europe against some top European professional team Youth Academies.

Cam now plays for the U14 Everton FC Westchester team and recently played at Gillette stadium as part of the League schedule which has MLS youth teams in.

Here he is making a double save in the above game:

The good news continued for Cam recently as he was notified that he had been selected to play on Everton FC Westchester’s U16 Academy team next year. ( Despite being U15)

Cam’s story is a great example of what hard work, becoming a student of the position and having great supportive parents can achieve. Well done Cam!

The Goalkeeper HQ Mentor program helps goalkeepers with services, products and knowledge to become a true student in the art of goalkeeping. Find out more about the Goalkeeper HQ Mentor program and how you can apply here.

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Parents dealing with a goalkeeper’s disappointment

My last article on dealing with disappointment was aimed at the goalkeepers themselves, but here is a post specifically for parents on helping their son or daughter deal with disappointment. The disappointment may be a little broader than just the result, which is what I focused on during the last article.

Firstly I would like to share my very popular post on how to be a good goalkeeping parent.

Disappointment can actually be a good thing — especially when you, as a parent or coach can teach them how to bounce back.

The fact is, life is full of disappointment and if through the game of soccer, it provides life lessons on how to deal with it then bring it on.

I have been amazed at the lengths goalkeeping parents go to to protect their son or daughter from the valuable lessons that goalkeeping disappointment may bring. Here are two examples; 1) Only playing for teams that win all the time 2) Taking players away from a club when their goalkeeper’s playing time is threatened by a second goalkeeper.

The following exert was taken from NBC Basketball Camps.

Watching your children in pain is so challenging. It is harder on you than it is on them. Don’t make it worse by living below the line through rage, back-stabbing the coach, talking negative about the program or other players, and filling the home with bitterness. Your words can be an even heavier burden.  Disappointment is a fact of life but bitterness, shame, and rage do not have to be.  Work to help your son or daughter become a more powerful, healthy and mentally tough person.

Remember this story. A young boy observed a butterfly straining to emerge from a cocoon. The butterfly appeared to be struggling and in pain. He rushed into the kitchen and brought out scissors. He carefully snipped the cocoon open and the butterfly was free. But the butterfly’s wings where misshapen. He later learned, the struggle and pain the butterfly must endure emerging from the cocoon were necessary for it to fly.  Parents, take a deep breath and avoid the reactive impulse to rescue your children from disappointment, it could be the very thing they need to become the best they can be.
 
Here are five things you could do / shouldn’t do after a disappointing result.
  1. Be in control over where and with whom you share your feelings.  Immediately after the game is not a time for reactive, hostile, or bitter behavior. Venting in public, bad mouthing the coach, acting like you don’t care are poor ways to handle disappointment. Not only do you come across as a bad loser, but you will also be an embarrassment for your son or daughter who will already be dealing with numerous emotions.
  2. Empathize, Empathize, Empathize! Though it’s tempting to rush in and reassure or correct your child’s thoughts and feelings (by saying, don’t feel that way, don’t say that, that’s not true!), this will only make kids get more upset because rightfully so, they feel you haven’t heard them. Instead reflect what they are saying, “this feels like the worst day of your life,” or, “you feel like you’re the worst player.” Empathizing doesn’t mean agreeing with their conclusions, it means accepting that this is your child’s state at this moment. By hearing his or her thoughts played back, children are often able to move beyond the feelings and recognize how they are different from the facts, “I feel that way, but I know it’s not true.”
  3. Lower the stakes, not the standards: Separate your child’s value from the outcome of the game. Your child’s value as a human being isn’t at stake every time he or she steps on the field (it only feels that way to them)  Don’t dispense with the importance of playing well, but dispense with the inaccurate interpretation of what it means to lose: ask your child what it means to him or her if he loses, and then ask them to think what it really means in life. What is the interpretation that the coach has? The other players? The outcome of the game is temporary and changeable, your value is permanent and only will improve with effort.
  4. Separate the feelings from the facts and ditch the absolutes: When we’re upset our feelings are extreme, fortunately, the facts are not. Best way to point this out is to simply reflect back what your child says and remind them that feelings are strong at first, but they pass; they don’t last forever.  So, if your child says: “Everyone is better!” you say, “It feels like everyone is better than you—is that what you really think is true, or just how you are feeling right now?” Listen and help your child correct the absolutes: “everyone is better” becomes “some people play better, some don’t”, “I never do anything right,” becomes, “I usually play well, this was a tough game.” “I stink at everything” becomes I am strong in shot stopping, I need to practice my kicking more.
  5. Identify where your child is on the learning curve: Ask your child how long they have been playing the position. Think through with your child about how long it will take to learn a new skill and how they will know when they have mastered it. Be aware of all the core competencies that goalkeepers need and ask the goalkeeper to evaluate themselves on each to get an idea of where the work needs to start.

The Goalkeeper HQ learning cycle helps players in each area of the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read and watch more about the coaching cycle and how goalkeepers can put it into practice through the Goalkeeper HQ Members Area.

 


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Dealing with team disappointment

As a goalkeeper, you will be prone to the odd mistake. Unfortunately for us, the goalkeeper’s mistake more often than not leads to a goal. Our hope is that any goal that comes from a goalkeeping error does not affect the outcome of the game. I have previously written about goalkeepers dealing with mistakes

Disappointment comes with playing sports as there are winners and losers. I have discussed disappointment on playing time and getting dropped from the team previously, but in this article, I would like to deal with the disappointment of a bad result.

Learning to handle disappointment appropriately is very crucial. Disappointment left unattended and unchallenged can lead, according to researchers to depression, bitterness, a weakened immune system and a more pessimistic view of life.

Disappointment is defined in the dictionary as the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest.  In other words, to have what you were expecting, hoping for, planning on, not work out.

Here are 7 ways players can deal with the disappointment:

  1. Be mentally tough.  Make decisions based on your mental toughness not on your feelings. You may feel like giving up, you may feel like blowing up at the coach. Instead, decide to act as mentally tough as possible by not becoming reactive, hostile, or bitter. Venting in public, bad mouthing the coach, acting like you don’t care are poor ways to handle disappointment.  Be in control over where and with whom you share your feelings.
  2. Find the Wins within the losses. – While every game or event has winners and losers, the real loss is when you don’t give credit where credit is due. Ask yourself what went well? While you may be critical of something you did wrong, you may be dismissing and devaluing the things you did well, because in the all or none game, if you can’t do it all, you lose. Not so. Look at professional athletes, the best hitters have the most errors, the best basketball players can’t master the free shots.
  3. Learn from your mistakes – Help make the crisis an opportunity for learning how to improve: Analyze like a detective what went wrong and see if there are things to help make it happen differently next time (practicing a particular skill, staying focused on the game). Analyzing is the first part of the Goalkeeper HQ learning cycle.
  4. Identify the outlier: When perfectionistic kids make a mistake they assume that error redefines their life, starts a new trend for them as a loser. It is important that if you are on a winning team that suffers a loss, it is an exception and should not make a new rule.
  5. Create your own goals for each game. Despite the outcome of the game, you can always circle back to the goals that you can control.
  6. Get your eyes off yourself. Serve someone else to get your mind off your own troubles. As bad as your loss may feel, remember there are many, many people who are worse off physically or environmentally.
  7. Research how a favorite player or role model has dealt with disappointment. Tim Howard talks about his disappointment on being so close to winning the FA Cup in this bleacher report.  Howard was able to take the wins from a disappointing World Cup result for the USA as they went out to Belgium in 2014. Tim Howard had more saves ( 15 ) than any other goalkeeper since the 1966 World Cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents dealing with a goalkeeper’s disappointment should click here

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Goalkeeper HQ is now on Instagram!

Yippee!  We are now on Instagram – Follow us @GoalkeeperHQ

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